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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336358

Research Project: Multifunctional Farms and Landscapes to Enhance Ecosystem Services

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems

Author
item ISBELL, FOREST - Minnesota State University
item Adler, Paul
item EISENHAUER, NICO - Leipzig University
item FORNARA, DARIO - Agri Food - Canada
item KIMMEL, KAITLIN - Minnesota State University
item KREMEN, CLAIRE - University Of California
item LETOURNEAU, DEBORAH - California State University
item LIEBMAN, MATT - Iowa State University
item Polley, Wayne
item QUIJAS, SANDRA - University Of Guadalajara
item SCHERER-LORENZEN, MICHAEL - University Of Freiburg

Submitted to: Journal of Ecology
Publication Type: Literature Review
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/15/2017
Publication Date: 6/19/2017
Citation: Isbell, F., Adler, P.R., Eisenhauer, N., Fornara, D., Kimmel, K., Kremen, C., Letourneau, D., Liebman, M., Polley, H.W., Quijas, S., Scherer-Lorenzen, M. 2017. Benefits of increasing plant diversity in sustainable agroecosystems. Journal of Ecology. Volume 105:871-879. doi: 10.1111/1365-2745.12789.

Interpretive Summary: No Interpretive Summary is required. JLB

Technical Abstract: Recent studies have revealed many potential benefits of increasing plant diversity in agroecosystems and production forests, including enhancing yields of crops, forage, and wood; stabilizing yields across time and space; enhancing pollinators and pollination; suppressing weeds and other pests; and accumulating and retaining soil nutrients and carbon. Thus, plant diversity can provide a partial substitute for many costly agricultural inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, imported pollinators, and irrigation. Diversification strategies include enhancing crop genetic diversity, mixed plantings, rotating crops, agroforestry, and diversifying landscapes surrounding croplands. Here we briefly review studies considering how increasing plant diversity influences the production of crops, forage, and wood; yield stability; and several supporting agroecosystem services. There is consistently strong evidence that strategically increasing plant diversity increases crop and forage yield, wood production, yield stability, and weed suppression, whereas effects of diversification on other agroecosystem services tend to be weaker, mixed, or understudied. Synthesis: The benefits of diversifying agroecosystems are expected to be greatest where agricultural inputs incur the greatest social costs and fail to adequately mitigate biotic and abiotic limiting factors.